BELDING, Mich. (August 23, 2014) – Heat and humidity were the first things drivers often mentioned after crawling from their cars following Round 11 of the SCCA Northern Conference Majors Tour races at Grattan Raceway on Saturday.
The effort it took to win on the physically demanding track was the second.
Twenty-four drivers scored wins in the penultimate round of the season-long Championship race on Saturday during 25 minute races at the Michigan track, with a handful clinching titles with the effort.
Highlights from Saturday’s races:
Group 1: Jonathan Start got the jump on polesitter Tom Patton at the green flag, moving his No. 51 Kalin Construction/Hoosier/Carbotech Dodge Viper into the lead and setting the early pace overall in GT-2. Patton battled back however, taking the outside line through the final corner of lap four and running side-by-side with the Viper up the front straight. Under braking for the right handed turn one, the No. 50 Hoosier Tires/Red Line Oil Sunbeam Tiger moved into the lead.
That was short-lived, however, as Patton spun in the difficult turn three, just two corners after taking the point. Patton kept the Tiger running (and from collecting Start in the spin), and began the chase while Start worked through traffic. On lap 13, Start’s mirrors were once again full of Patton’s Tiger.
Patton regained the lead on lap 14 through turn 11, and this time, held on to the checkered flag.
Behind the GT-2 battle, GT-3 started as a terrific three-car battle. Rob Warkcocki’s No. 73 Deerfield/Hoosier/TRO/Mazda Mazda RX-7 led away at the start, with Paul Young behind after a great start in the No. 79 Young Racing/Hoosier Tire Ford Probe. That battle was quickly joined by Joe Kristensen’s No. 4 Acura RSX, and the three ran in a line.
The group was separated on lap three when Young spun in turn eight, just in front of Kristensen. Kristensen was able to avoid the spinning Ford, and quickly reclosed the gap to Warcocki. On lap six, Kristensen moved in front to take the lead, and stretched the gap slightly. That gap was closing with one to go, but Kristensen had enough to get to hold the lead.
Ed Hosni (No. 17 Lasco Ford/Hoosier Tire/Steeda/Ford Racing/Edelbrock Ford Mustang), Tom Stanford (No. 20 Pote-Stanford Reporting Chevrolet Camaro), John Buttermore (No. 52 Hoosier/Carbotech/StopTech Chevrolet Corvette) and Rich Rigda (No. 3 ChevyPerfParts/Caravan FM/Tremec Chevrolet Camaro) won American Sedan, GT-1, Touring 1 and Touring 2, respectively, going away.
Group 2: Attrition and mistake-free races by the leaders decided each of the races in the small formula group.
Russell Ruedisueli kept his No. 20 Van Diemen RF-99 just in front of Max Mallinen’s No. 10 Spectrum 014H early in Formula F, then at the end of the race ticked off laps that were just faster than the 16-year-old’s to bring home a win for the veteran’s and keeping his Northern Conference Championship hopes alive.
Brian Novak, fine tuning a car this weekend that hasn’t been his season-long chariot this season in Formula 500 and prepping for the Runoffs, clinched the Conference Championship with a win on Saturday in the No. 13 Hoosier/NovaRace/AiM NovaKar J360.
Jeff Loughead led Formula Vee in the No. 18 Hoosier Tire/LL Loughead, DDS Vortech CR04/Volkswagen, holding off Charles McCormick’s No. 90 RSE Incorporated Vortech CM1. The pair were joined early by Brandon Abbott’s No. Hoosier/Linamar/McLaren Performance Technoligies/Autowerks/Vector Racecars Vector AM-1, but Abbott came to pit lane on lap seven in the battle for the lead with his engine spitting smoke.
Group 3: Try as he might, Lance Loughman’s No. 20 5:01 Motorsports Datsun 240Z just didn’t have enough for No. 6 Catawba island Marina/Halkias Performance Services Triumph TR6 of Sam Halkias for the E Production and overall win. Loughman spent the 25 minutes looking for a way around Halkias, poking to the inside going to turn one on a handful of occasions, but Halkias stayed calm and in control of the race.
Greg Gauper clinched the Northern Conference H Production title with his win in the No. 15 Rana Mort Racing/King Motorsports Honda Civic. Gauper led the distance, but had the No. 46 Baurle Autosport/MS Datsun 510 of Tom Hannagan and the No. 11 Kim, Ty, Kasey, Mom and Dad Austin Healey Sprite of Eric Vickerman charging hard at the finish. Gauper still had a gap of 3.9 seconds at the checkers.
Isaac Preston took control of GT-Lite in his No. 72 MetroLineDirect.com Toyota Tercel when the No. 44 Austin Mini of Joel Hipp spun from the lead early on in turn three. John Walker ran away with F Production in the No. 9 Walker Racing MG B, while David Daughtery was the B-Spec winner in the No. 8 Nissan/Hoosier/Carbotech/Enkei Nissan Versa.
Group 4: Justin Hille was able to do what few can do in any Spec Miata race – escape from his rivals, break the draft, and march to a win by more than four seconds.
Hille steadily marched his No. 48 Hilltrux/Roush Mazda Miata away from the two car battle for second between Voytek Burdzy and Seth Rowley. That gap got larger when Rowley’s No. 08 Great Lakes Motorsports/Rowleys/Service Pro/HAWK Miata tapped the rear of the Burdzy’s No. 41 Advanced Autosports Mazda Miata, swapping positions as both continued.
Burdzy moved back into the second position, and then held on for second podium spot at the finish with Rowley behind.
Group 5: Tyler Theilmann led overall and in Formula 1000 early in the “wings and things” group with a challenge from the No. 00 Vardis Racing/Hoosier Tire/AiM RFR F1000 of Nicho Vardis. Vardis got a run up the front straight and around Theilman on lap five, when his No. 6 SO Bright LLC JDR-012 was “just off,” in his words.
Vardis would win the class, eventually passed for the overall lead by Prototype 1 winner Ralph Provitz’ No. 38 V2 Motorsports/George Dean Racing Engines/AIM Staudacher S08. The second-place finish for Theilmann was enough to clinch the season-long Championship in his class.
Richard Colburn won on Saturday in Prototype 2 and had previously clinched his Championship in the No. 97 Amari Metals Nostendo.
Group 6: As has been the case so many times this season in the Northern Conference, Spec Racer Ford was the Scott Rettich show. The No. 17 Alliance Autosport/PDI Communications Spec Racer Ford got out in front of the field at the green flag and pulled away lap after lap, bringing home his eighth Conference win of the season to score the maximum 200 points.
The Touring 4 battle remains tight after Daniel Bender’s win on Saturday. Championship leader Greg Vandersluis packed up and headed home after qualifying with a mechanical issues that couldn’t be fixed at the track in his No. 93 Carbotech/BFGoodrich/Ford Racing/Vandersluis Motorsports/Track First Ford Mustang. With the win, Bender’s No. 10 Bravo Trailers/BFGoodrich Tires/Autobarn Mazda Mazda MX-5 needs a win or a second place on Sunday to take the title.
John Schmitt scored a dominating Super Touring Lite win on Saturday behind the wheel of the No. 73 Honda Prelude after moving around Touring 3 winner David Daughtery’s No. 05 Nissan/Hoosier/CarboTech/Enkei Nissan 370Z following their early race battle.
The final round of the SCCA Northern Conference Majors Tour continues from Grattan Raceway on Sunday morning, with the 25 lap races beginning at 9:35 a.m. Live notes, timing and the PA audio are available online at SCCA.com/SCCALive.
More information, including race results, can be found at SCCA.com/GrattanMajors.
Belding, Mich. - Provisional race winners for Saturday’s SCCA Northern Conference Majors Tour Round 11 from Grattan Raceway. Drivers are listed by Class: name, hometown, and car.
American Sedan: Edward Hosni, Galloway, Ohio, Ford Mustang
B-Spec: David Daughtery, Fortville, Ind., Nissan Versa
E Production: Sam Halkias, Westerville, Ohio, Triumph TR6
F Production: John Walker, Richland, Mich., MG B
H Production: Greg Gauper, Hubertus, Wis., Honda Civic
Formula 500: Brian Novak, Dearborn, Mich. NovaKar J360
Formula 1000: Nicho Vardis, Sylvan Lake, Mich., RFR F1000
Formula Atlantic: Michael Mallinen, Liberty Lake, Wash., Swift 016a/Mazda
Formula F: Russell Ruedisueli, Rochester, Mich., Van Diemen RF-99
Formula Mazda: Jason Vinkemulder, Spring Lake, Mich., Formula Mazda
Formula Vee: Jeff Loughead, Darien, Ill., Vortech CR04/Volkswagen
GT-1: Tom Stanford, Orland Park, Ill., Chevrolet Camaro
GT-2: Tom Patton, Hamilton, Ohio, Sunbeam Tiger
GT-3: Joe Kristensen, London, Ontario, Acura RSX
GT-Lite: Isaac Preston, Morton Grove, Ill., Toyota Tercel
Prototype 1: Ralph Provitz, Macomb, Mich., Staudacher S08
Prototype 2: Richard Colburn, Northbrook, Ill., Nostendo
Spec Miata: Justin Hille, Canfield, Ohio, Mazda Miata
Spec Racer Ford: Scott Rettich, Columbus, Ohio, Spec Racer Ford
Super Touring Lite: John Schmitt, Sunbury, Ohio, Honda Prelude
Touring 1: John Buttermore, Wolverine Lake, Mich., Chevrolet Corvette
Touring 2: Rich Rigda, Saginaw, Mich., Chevrolet Camaro
Touring 3: David Daughtery, Fortville, Ind., Nissan 370Z
Touring 4: Daniel Bender, Northbrook, Ill., Mazda MX-5